Friday, February 23, 2024

Cam Slater: Let That Be a Lesson to You

The person who leaked the tobacco tax information has been sacked from the Ministry of Health. This should be a salient lesson to anyone contemplating leaking: there is a new Government and they take this stuff seriously; if you leak, you’ll be sacked.

The Ministry of Health says a staff member it claims leaked information to the media is no longer employed by the ministry.

RNZ last month reported on a Ministry document which showed the Associate Health Minister Casey Costello had requested advice on freezing the annual increase in tobacco tax.

That was despite Costello saying she had not sought advice on that.

In a statement, Director-General of Health Diana Sarfati – who heads the ministry – said the individual responsible for the leak had been identified after an investigation – and was no longer working at the ministry.

“Following the leak of confidential Ministry information to an external third party last month, the Ministry of Health began an investigation to determine how this occurred,” the statement said.

“We can now confirm that the individual responsible has been identified and no longer works at the Ministry.”

Sarfati said they took matters of integrity extremely seriously, and the ministry’s job was to work to the direction of the government and any efforts to undermine that eroded public trust.

“I cannot stress how disappointing this has been.”

In a separate statement, the Deputy Public Service Commissioner Heather Baggott said she supported the strong action, describing the leaking of official information as “unacceptable”.

“Public servants who use their privileged access to government information to influence political debates undermine trust and confidence in the Public Service,” Baggott said.

“The deliberate leaking of information is a political act which is incompatible with the neutrality requirements on public servants.”

Good job. Long may it continue.

Look, there’s a place for leaking: it is sometimes necessary. This was not one of those times. This was a fifth columnist who was pissy about the change of government and seeking to embarrass a minister.

While leakers were tacitly approved of under the Labour Government, they were also soft on anyone throwing a tanty in the civil service.

Those days are now over. The adults are in charge, and if you leak then you will be sacked.

Cam Slater is a New Zealand-based blogger, best known for his role in Dirty Politics and publishing the Whale Oil Beef Hooked blog, which operated from 2005 until it closed in 2019. Cam blogs regularly on the BFD - where this article was sourced.


Anonymous said...

No longer works with does not equal sacked. they could have moved to another govt dept.

Andrew Osborn said...

I just hope he or she doesn't get recycled into another government job down the line.